[eDebate] Reply to Tom Meagher

Calum Matheson u.hrair
Sat Apr 26 09:12:27 CDT 2008

The bulk of this post has very little to do with the Cold War, and certainly
doesn't establish the claims made in your first post.  To summarize my
earlier objections:  1. Colonialism is very important, but it does not
determine 100% of the history of the Cold War.  2. The claim that it does
puts Western history at the center of the world again and ignores the
important particularities of Russian history. 3. The study of proximate
causes is more valuable than the study of ultimate causes.
I'll comment after each paragraph.

On Sat, Apr 26, 2008 at 3:53 AM, Tom Meagher <meagher.tom at gmail.com> wrote:

> Calum,
> I'm sorry for the extent to which I overstated your arguments on Russia. I
> used them as a jumping off point because I found them frustrating in the
> context, and that context was of course immanent to my own perception. I did
> indeed make bold claims without backing them up much, and hopefully the
> length of this post will indicate why.
> The idea that I attribute the Cold War solely to the US is laughable. To
> me, anyway. Soviet politics bore 100% of the influence of global
> coloniality. In my initial post, I referenced Aime Cesaire's Discourse on
> Colonialism, which, though written at the very beginning of the Cold War,
> argued that the forms of humanity that emerged globally as a result of
> colonialism were at the heart of WWII and the US-Soviet conflict. He
> famously termed this the "boomerang effect" of colonialism. By this, he was
> arguing that prescriptions for normative subjectivity became, within a few
> centuries of colonialism, fully inextricable from Europe's misanthropic
> philosophy and definition of humanity; these phenomena emerged out of
> Europe's intellectual burden of creating a discourse on human reality that
> would facilitate continued colonial exploitation. Fascism was an application
> of colonial philosophy and systems of management to the interior of Europe.
> Stalinism is in the same boat. Similarly, Frantz Fanon's writings, to name
> just the most important thinker in the field, were arguing that the Soviet
> Union's actions were fundamentally colonialist and that they were in the
> same boat as the US. Contemporarily, there is much scholarship related to
> this point. To save time, I'll give you just one citation: the South
> Atlantic Quarterly, 105:3, is dedicated to the relationship between
> coloniality and the contemporary post-Soviet Union.
> "Blaming the Cold War on a papal bull promulgated in 1455 just returns
> Western Europe to the same position at the center of history. Colonialism,
> and ONLY colonialism, by these European states determined the ENTIRE
> of history. This is just a more subtle way to focus on the West."
> I don't think that you said the USSR had nothing to do with the Cold War,
I just think you ignored or were ignorant of Russian history.  The claim
that "Soviet politics bore 100% of the influence of global coloniality" is
equally wrong.  The Cold War was between the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies
and the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia.  Saying that
coloniality was "at the heart of WWII" doesn't mean anything.  As I
acknowledged before, colonialism is one quite plausible explanation for
World War II.  But it's not the only one.  You may have missed the point of
my post.  Colonialism was important, but there is no one mechanism that
explains all of history.  That's what you first claimed.  It's obviously
incorrect, and a bunch of cites about colonialism don't change that.

> My argument is that what emerged in the wake of 1455 was historically
> unique and has not merely impacted but rather shaped the global phenomena
> that have ensued. You are not citing examples of other imperialisms that I
> am unaware or unfamiliar with. Few Ethnic Studies students I'm aware of have
> too big of a knowledge defecit when it comes to the colonial history of the
> Aztecs. Scholars like Sylvia Wynter, Enrique Dussel, Walter Mignolo,
> Immanuel Wallerstein, and Janet Abu-Lughod, to name only a few of the most
> renowned scholars, make comparative arguments on these points to argue that
> 1455/1492 is historically unique, and none of them are doing so from the
> perspective of Western European thought.
I'm sure you are well aware of other colonialisms.  You apparently were not
well informed about Russian history, as you seem to ignore the fact that
Soviet behavior in the Cold War was influenced by a long history before
1455, that the influence of Catholicism was weak on Russia, and that Russian
imperialism began early.  I'm going to assume that all the cites throughout
this message are meant to make the arguments look stronger, or perhaps be
guides for further study for those that are unaware of the body of theory
you cite.  It looks impressive, but doesn't really help your argument, as
none of it is about Russian history, none of it supports the claim that
Catholic politics determined 100% of Russian behavior over five hundred
years, none of it defends the value of ultimate causes versus proximate
causes, and all of it puts Western imperialism at the center, despite your
reference to other colonialisms.

> Allow me to synopsize the point. Prior to the 15th century, each human
> group had an ethnocentric cosmogony and cosmology; each human group has been
> defined by a shared language or linguistic form, and each has used that
> language to serve its adaptive needs. Each had a conception of divinity that
> was inextricable from how they understood the world; societies developed
> their own sciences in terms of their . Hence, the phenomena of
> ethnoastronomies the world over capable of making very precise calculations
> without having a purely scientific framework in place or having an accurate
> understanding of the cosmos.
> The great bulk of scientific advances that Europe has made since the 15thcentury have happened to some extent in a dialectic relation with
> colonialism. For a brilliant and earlier text that makes this point, see
> Fernando Ortiz's Cuban Counterpoint. For an in-depth and contemporary
> explanation, I would suggest reading every Sylvia Wynter article you can
> locate, (for starters, try
> www.phillwebb.net/regions/caribbean/Wynter/Wynter.htm) and then email me
> for copies of the ones you cannot find. These scientific advances completely
> overthrew the ethnocentric theological order of knowledge that gripped
> Christendom, *just as ethnocentric theological orders of knowledge gripped
> every other human society*. However, these advances were likely only
> possible because of a very different division of global labor that emerged
> out of coloniality, not to mention that Europe quickly gained immense access
> to scientific advancements from around the globe. (Consider, for example,
> the roots of the so-called Industrial Revolution in England colonizing
> India, exporting its techniques for manufacturing ? then the most advanced
> in the world ? back to England while destroying these capacities in India
> and converting Indian resources into, among other things, tea production.)
> Each scientific advancement, since it contributed to a significant degodding
> of Christocentric/Eurocentric epistemology, was cross-indexed with claims to
> the general superiority of a Eurocentered humanity. This, in turn, meant
> that Europe (I do not mean this in a geographic sense; Europe, strictly
> speaking, refers to the ideal to which the bulk of that geographic area
> aligned itself to starting with its degodding and hence inability to remain
> simply Christendom) was using the fruits of colonialism to build the
> technologies of domination that maintained colonialism (including
> intellectually) at the same time that it was using its ability to do so as
> evidence that this colonialism was necessary and for the good of all
> humanity.
> Perhaps the main reason for this historical uniqueness is laid out in
> Jacob Pandian's Anthropology and the Western Tradition. Christianity was
> fairly unique in having a core division between the true self and the untrue
> self. As Eurocentric thought emerged and progressively degodded itself,
> *this distinction between true and un-true selves was transumed instead of
> abandoned.* Anthropological thinking emerged that attempted to define the
> true self of Europe in contradistinction to the peoples of the rest of the
> world. As such, the racial/sexual/religious/etc. other is subject to
> misanthropic skepticism, as Nelson Maldonado-Torres has put it (see his
> Against War, in stores on 4/30, or his article in Cultural Studies vol. 21).
> In other words, the other must prove its own humanity, and the (Cartesian)
> subject emerging out of Europe was conditioned to begin with the assumption
> of its own validity ? cogito ergo sum. In this way, colonialism generated a
> coloniality of being; our very consciousness, and I am far, far from
> excluding myself or any being on the globe from this, is shaped to varying
> but large extents by the theorizing on human reality that emerged out of
> Europe's need to explain in positive terms the global phenomenon it was
> carrying out. And of course, Europe actively sought to spread the
> coloniality of being, and conducted evangelizing missions the world over.
> Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (and I strongly suggest reading Lewis
> Gordon's elaboration of this work in his Fanon and the Crisis of European
> Man as well as in the journal Parallax 8:2) makes this point with chilling
> effectiveness.
None of this has anything to do with the claim that you made, which I
disputed, that colonialism was not the only cause of the Cold War.
Colonialism was important, yes, gotcha.

> Alongside of the coloniality of being are a coloniality of knowledge,
> power, and freedom. For more on the coloniality of knowledge, consult
> Mignolo or Wynter. I think that that concept is pretty straightforward, but
> will elaborate if need be; consider the role of the Kantian/Humboldtian
> university in disseminating Eurocentric knowledge and disrupting other
> knowledge practices, and the subsequent corporate university model that
> broke out in the 20th century. The coloniality of power was first termed
> by Anibal Quijano, and his English-language piece in Nepantla from 2000 is a
> must read (it's on Project Muse, for those who have access). Where
> colonialism receded, the new institutions of social power were taken up by
> white, often bourgeois elites; "Latin America" is the deepest and earliest
> example. The institutions put in place by colonialism have generally been
> maintained or quickly returned to, and rarely for "democratic" reasons.
> Consider, for instance, what it means for realist international relations
> theory, which takes the nation as the building block of analysis, that the
> vast majority of the nations in the world came into existence not through
> the type of nation-building seen in the so-called first world (as in the
> famous text Imagined Communities) but rather through colonizing states
> deciding that colonialism was not worth the effort and splitting up land
> accordingly (this is an over-simplification; Quijano's article makes the
> point quite well).
Thanks for your elaboration.  Russian identity, though, is at times
explicitly defined in opposition to the West.  It's a complex dynamic that
is not explained by the events of 1455.  This was the part of my post about
the symbol of the double-headed eagle, the boyars, "The Scythians," etc.
Russian political development does not fall into this mold; Russian
intellectual life does not draw only on the traditions of the West.

> The coloniality of freedom refers to the notion that the terms of
> liberation have also been dictated and/or distorted by coloniality. This is
> a very complex issue and since it is not particularly germane (except to
> Marxism, which I will discuss below) I'll just encourage an examination of
> the history of Haiti.
> A crucial point here is Sylvia Wynter's argument that Man, the subject
> assumed in Eurocentric discourse, over-represents itself as if it were
> humanity. Man is a gendered subject, as nearly any debater is somewhat aware
> of, but if we look at the etymology of the word gender, we see that it is
> essentially the same as the term genre (see her essay in Not Only the
> Master's Tools on this point). Man is a genre of humanity that has produced
> an order of knowledge premised on the notion that it is the only truly valid
> genre of humanity, and that the less human humans, the (post-Darwin, anyway)
> dysgenic others to Man's eugenic self, are to be legitimately subordinated
> to Man. The genre of being that is dictated by the Eurocentric experience
> has been violently imposed on others at the same time that these others are
> systematically denied the possibility of meeting its standards.
Put quilts on those elephants, commander.  Someday Kruschev will send
missiles to Cuba.

>  This has a bipartite implication (it is obviously more complicated than
> this distinction). Man's genre has a neurotic attachment to the technologies
> of colonialism/domination, leading, inter alia, to its fascination with
> militarism and nuclear warfare; techno-rational solutions to all or nearly
> all problems, leading to global environmental problems, to say the least;
> capital accumulation in excess and fetishism; a misanthropic and violent
> sexuality. At the extreme, as Cesaire argued, is Hitler (see Nelson
> Maldonado-Torres' article on Cesaire in the Radical Philosophy Review,
> 2006).
> For those on the underside of modernity, whose humanity is at all times in
> question, this genre of being ? which, through the multifaceted cultural
> technologies of colonialism and subsequently coloniality, is part and parcel
> of subject formation (e.g., identification with white heroes in films and so
> forth) ? creates the phenomenon DuBois defined as double consciousness. This
> concept is greatly elaborated on in Fanon and Fanonian scholarship in terms
> of self-aversion. The person of color develops a subjective understanding of
> their own self grounded in the consciousness of Man at the same time that
> this consciousness is anti-Black, anti-poor, anti-etc.
> That is a very hasty outline of the argument for the centrality of
> coloniality in analysis of the contemporary world.
Okay.  Not "importance," not even "centrality," was the initial claim.  You
are explaining colonialism; rehashing things familiar to many of us; not
establishing that it was the ONLY cause of the Cold War. There are a barrage
of sophisticated-sounding arguments here, but I think that the reason there
are so many cites and polished-sounding references is because they are part
of a core explanation of colonialism, which is not at issue here.  Yes
colonialism.  No, not 100% of the Cold War.

> Now, I understand why you make the argument that this puts (keeps) Western
> Europe at the center. But my reasoning has nothing to do with an
> epistemology centered in Western Europe; my reasoning has everything to do
> with epistemologies centered in Martinique, in Chiapas, in Algeria, in
> Jamaica, in the US Southwest, and so on. The best response to a Manichean
> schema is not always to merely deconstruct Manichean logic.
Nope.  The claim that 1455 determined the Cold War centers everything not
just on Europe, but on Western Europe.  Your failure to engage Russian
history is good evidence of this.  Naming a bunch of places that were
colonized does nothing to refute the argument that you have made an
insupportable historical argument.  Of course you want to center your ideas
on a bunch of places colonized by Western Europe.  That's because it's the
Lucifer of Paradise Lost, the rock star of evil.  If you want to explain
Russian behavior, try "epistemologies centered in" Kiev, Volgograd, Sochi,
and Vladivostok.

> With regard to the Cold War, it does not seem that I need to provide much
> of an explanation for the relation between the US's role and coloniality.
> But allow me to list a handful from a large number of salient issues:
> 1. Capitalism has not existed independently of a racialized global
> division of labor (i.e., coloniality). There are many arguments to be made
> about the variety of related human "economies," but Quijano, Mignolo, Ramon
> Grosfoguel, and the world systems analysis school have elucidated the
> reasons for this distinction at length. Capitalism is the result of the
> bourgeoisie's revolution against feudalism, which is inextricable from the
> opportunities opened up by racializing labor. Debaters who rail against
> capitalism ? and their intellectual inspirations, like the
> avowedly-Eurocentric scoundrel Slavoj Zizek ? tend to downplay this quite
> considerably. Similarly, the defenders of capitalism have no empirical
> analysis of it that does not stem from a world where a complex system of
> coloniality defends the division of labor that makes it not only possible
> but thinkable.
This was in the part of your post where you talked about Towson and Kansas.
Okay, you take issue with "debaters who rail about capitalism," whoever they
are. They annoy me too, for different reasons, so i've got little to say.
This has nothing to do with our discussion of the Cold War though.

> (I'll address 'Why 1455' here. This division of labor starts with the
> papal bull, and within a century the Pope's decree that heathens can be
> justly enslaved produces the disputation at Vallavolid where Sepulveda, a
> scholar and translator of Aristotle, made a non-theological argument for
> racial slavery on the basis of 'natural slavery.' At Vallavolid, the
> indigenous peoples of the Americas were determined to have the (largely
> unfulfilled) potential for humanity, while the indigenous peoples of Africa
> were not even debated: it was assumed that they were not human. So 1455
> makes reference to the institution of the capital accumulation system and
> the revolution of the bourgeoisie, the racial system, and the origins of
> misanthropic skepticism later fleshed out in Cartesian reasoning. It also
> coincides with the degodding of the natural world, culminating with
> Columbus' 1492 voyage that disproved Christendom's ethnogeography and that
> was based on his poetics of the propter nos ? that is, that god invented the
> world 'for us' (Christendom) to spread the gospel.)
Right.  In the Catholic world.  Russia is Orthodox.  You like to throw out
little gems like "consider the history of Haiti," or "I'll direct you
to..."  Russia, Russia, Russia.  No decision made by the Pope thousands of
miles from Moscow explains Russian behavior.  Russian behavior influenced
American behavior.  Therefore, colonialism does not explain the entire Cold
War. There were millions or billions of individual decisions that shaped the
evolution and outcome of the Cold War; there are an infinite chain of
ultimate causes from the Toba eruption and the genetic bottleneck of the
human species 200,000 years ago, through Hannibal's failure at Cannae, the
Mongol invasion of Russia, all the way to Operation Barbarossa and the
heroic sacrifices of Chuikov's 62nd army.

> 2. The US does not exist independent of coloniality. Period. Other forms
> of punctuation, and then repeated, and then another period or three.
See the part where I said colonialism was important, but that you are wrong
about how it determines 100% of the Cold War.

> 3. The interest in maintaining capitalism and markets beyond rational
> arguments to do so stems from coloniality, as does the willingness to devote
> huge sectors of production to this end.
> 4. The ontology behind the cold war mindset is inextricable from the
> coloniality of being.
> 5. Flip Calum's argument about city planning and nuclear war. The
> development of nuclear weapons, as well as the escalation that ensued, were
> possible in large part because stratification made the consequences more
> palatable. I don't think we disagree on this one.
> 6. The competition for satellite nations is inextricable from the
> coloniality of power.
> Your point about Russian expansion is not lost on me. I have no problem
> admitting that Russian consciousness was more greatly influenced by forms of
> domination preceding coloniality than was US consciousness. That having been
> said, Marxism is an intellectual history steeped in and inextricable from
> the coloniality to which I was referring. Simply put, Marxism attempted to
> correct the excesses of coloniality by valorizing the proletarian class and
> labor more generally. In doing so, it only borrowed the misanthropic
> philosophical anthropology that emerged out of the bourgeoisie's
> valorization of capital in its revolution against feudalism. Coloniality
> meant that Europe would not commit itself to a humanist philosophy but
> rather a discourse of requiring the other to prove its humanity. This, I
> argue, is the cornerstone of all subsequent Eurocentric thought. The
> bourgeoisie successfully established the main criteria for this misanthropic
> skepticism along a set of totemic valuations based on degree of difference
> from the bourgeoisie's avowed characteristics. Hence, coloniality
> established humanity on the basis of maleness, Christianity, the
> nation-state, capital accumulation, and quickly emerging racializations. The
> contention is that Marx, who started off by making an argument of
> philosophical anthropology (that is, he defined humanity on the basis of its
> productive capacity, to reduce it significantly), only replicated this.
> Compare Marx's philosophical anthropology to those of Guaman Poma, Frederick
> Douglass, or Antenor Firmin. The result is Leninism, Stalinism, the gulag
> archipelago, et cetera. I will confess to being under-informed on the roots
> of major Soviet figures in Russian political discourse as opposed to Marxist
> political discourse. I will concede that other factors played a role in the
> Soviet buildup to the Cold War. But it is entirely evident that Russia's
> epistemology and totemic valuation of human life stem largely from the
> entirely globalized phenomenon of coloniality, which I contend is best
> defined as starting with 1455. I don't have my notes on this subject
> (Marxism) handy, so I will try to produce more citations when I can.
I think the citations about Marxism and Soviet history are probably
unnecessary. Thanks, though.
Marxism did not determine all of Russian behavior; colonialism did not begin
in Russia in 1455.  Marxism was adapted to Russian conditions, and the
Soviet state manipulated it to provide ideological cover for policies that
it wished to engage in anyway--hence the remarkable continuity in Russian,
Soviet, then Russian state behavior.  This is a great example of my earlier
criticism--you seem to desperately force all of history into the mold of
Western European history.  The West is the negative center of everything;
the East is...well...just kinda like the West, you see, and something that
happened in the Catholic church determined the behavior of another country,
with another religion, in another part of the world, three hundred years
earlier. There's a certain outspoken friend of mine from Northbrook who
deserves a mention here.

> So that is the late Friday night, why did I stay home writing this instead
> of going out version of why the Cold War is fundamentally rooted in
> coloniality, its engine. I did indeed attempt to use provocative language in
> my initial post, but it is language that I will defend and with only a few
> possible exceptions continue to advocate for the near future. This is a
> technique that Calum is clearly not unfamiliar with. I do not claim that
> there is no other hermeneutic available; certainly to go more broadly, the
> root of the cold war is that humans broke from other species in developing
> linguistic capacities that allowed for the adaptive evolution of human
> knowledge and societies; while other animals must reproduce and depend on
> bioevolution for the bulk of their adaptation to the world they inhabit,
> humans are able to develop narrative understandings of that world that can
> be communicated and debated intersubjectively.
You didn't use particularly provocative language, you are just wrong that
colonialism determined all of the Cold War.  We agree that it was
important.  We disagree on how loose and sloppy historical arguments can be,
and how much certainty (100% versus less than 100%) we can derive from them.

> So why do I make a big deal about coloniality? The significance is not to
> blame Europe. To do so accomplishes nothing. It is to develop an analytic
> clarity in order to overthrow the present order of knowledge and create a
> new one. I felt compelled to raise these issues because the coloniality of
> knowledge militates against them, and debate is closer to the belly of this
> beast than its hindquarters. The new order of knowledge is not one premised
> on either a return to the past (as Cesaire went to great lengths to make
> clear) or on being a Bizarro Europe that says badbye when it is leaving. It
> is to develop a humanist philosophy, and not a Eurocentric misanthropy
> masquerading as humanism. To do so requires new approaches and new
> discourses emerging from the people on the underside of modernity. It is my
> contention that debate as presently constituted is to a large degree at odds
> with the methodologies that are requisite for this (see: Wynter, Linda
> Tuhiwai Smith, and Sandoval, among many others). At the same time, debate
> can be an explosive tool against coloniality, and in many ways already is.
> Thus, my vested interest in advancing the discourse and research on racism
> in the debate community.
> This previous paragraph seems skimpy. It's where my big alt card is
> supposed to be. Once again, I'm having a hard time conceptualizing a way to
> spell this out. So I'm going to try again to ask the reader to do some work
> on this one. Consider the following concepts advanced by these authors, and
> I can scrounge up the specifics if you need them:
> -Love / A New Humanism ? Frantz Fanon
> -Transmodernity ? Enrique Dussel
> -Border epistemology ? Anzald?a and Mignolo
> -Towards the human, after Man ? Sylvia Wynter
> The fundamental point is about liminality. The subjects excluded from the
> reigning order, or the subjects on its very threshold, gain access to the
> order's knowledge at the same time that they experience their own exclusion
> from it (debaters may be familiar with a different version of this concept,
> the so-called epistemic privilege). The great changes in any episteme come
> from its margins; the Iberian peninsula reacted to its marginalization from
> a world centered around the Arabic-speaking world by beginning the global
> process of colonialism. It would bring me great joy to see the debate
> community begin its research processes at the margins of contemporary global
> reality. Ultimately, the criticisms of modernity emerging from these sites,
> as well as the utopistics for the future, are a prerequisite to adopting a
> humanist philosophy. Reparations is an appealing topic because it does not
> only ask what is wrong in the status quo (and, unlike previous 'race
> topics', does not confine itself to civil rights, privacy, court decisions,
> etc.) but also requires a utopistics from the margins. Reparations debates
> require a vision of the future, and they require an epistemology that starts
> with the underside of modernity (though surely we all agree that many
> debaters will evade these requirements).
> What we have at present is a global reality that privileges the
> subjectivity, knowledge, institutions, and forms of life of Man. This global
> reality is, as such, related to Man's narrative capacity; human life has
> changed at an alarming rate because the ability to alter behavior so
> radically intragenerationally is unique to humans, at this time anyway. The
> human narrative capacity, however, does not function teleologically. To
> elaborate this point, consider the discourses of natural selection and
> evolution. On face, these are descriptive phenomena: over time, the species
> that survive are those that are best adapted to their environs. However,
> many seem to view this as a teleological phenomenon, a view rooted to
> significant extent in coloniality's discourse of Progress: over time, the
> BEST species live on and the worst ones die out. Evolution does the dirty
> work of making the world better, according to this view. Man sees its own
> narrative capacity as functioning as a teleological adaptation. Its forms of
> life are the best, and its job as a species (or genre of humanity) is to
> eliminate its dysgenic elements and promote its eugenic elements. However,
> Man does this on the basis of its belief that Man is isomorphic to humanity
> (or true humanity). As we are seeing, Man's belief in the promulgation of
> its ethnocentrically-derived criteria is not good for humanity at large and
> leads to a myriad of global problems. This is to be expected, because Man
> bases its understanding of the world on only a subset of the knowledge of
> the entire world. And it is powerful enough that it crowds out and often
> exterminates other forms of knowledge and being rather than learning from
> them. Man is actively promoting itself as the fittest and is subsequently
> threatening the survival of its others. It does so not on the basis of
> veridical truths (as no human knowledge can meet this standard, at least at
> present and on a wide scale) but rather on the adaptive truths it has
> narratively produced in its own experience. It has produced these adaptive
> truths out of its experience of colonizing the globe. This is a disastrous
> and tragic ethnocentrism that threatens to wipe out the planet and that
> wipes so many of its people on a daily basis.
> To advance beyond this state, and to develop criteria for being that are
> based not on the adaptive truths of Man but rather on the adaptive truths of
> humanity writ large, requires a revolution of consciousness. Such a
> revolution requires a reverse anthropology of Man carried out by the liminal
> subjects of the order.
Okay, fair enough.  That a legitimate opinion, although the hyperbole is a
little thick.  I don't have much to say about this since it does not engage
our historical dispute.

> I do not oppose a Russia topic, or any other topic (at least of those on
> the table? I will admit to hating the high school WMD topic). I choose to
> offer arguments in support of the topic that has the greatest potential to
> improve the debate community, and I can only do this from my own
> perspective, dependent though it is on a commitment to unearthing the
> perspectives of those condemned by coloniality. Nor do I oppose Calum's
> defense of Russia (the topic). Indeed, I chose it as a jumping off point in
> large part because it is such compelling argumentation.
If this really is your only aim, you should research the history of Russian
imperialism more thoroughly.  You seem to have spent much time with the
victims of Western European imperialism, but this is an understudied area of
history--partly due to its deliberate erasure by the Soviet Union.  I've
read as much about it as I can, but it's difficult, and I've had trouble
finding more than fragmentary documents.  This would be a great thing to do,
and is probably necessary if you're going to tie Catholic church doctrine to
Russian Orthodox imperialism.

> Unless something happens that I don't currently foresee, I'm not going to
> be working in college debate next year. As I've said, I don't have much to
> gain from a reparations topic. I am making an intervention in a community
> that I care about, and doing so did require or seemingly require a handful
> of rhetorical moves that I do not wholly agree with. My argument is that
> adopting a reparations topic has greater potential for utilizing the amazing
> research resources of college debate for genuine good. I'm not going to
> convince anyone single-handedly, and I'm not trying to.
> My best wishes to anyone reading and anyone not,
> Tom
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